MOTORSPORT: LEAMINGTON racer Tom Oliphant has started the new year in fine style after signing a contract to race in the British Touring Car Championship with Ciceley Motorsport.
The 27-year-old will make the step up to the BTCC in a Mercedes-Benz A-Class, an established car in the series with no less than six race wins and 21 podium finishes across the last four seasons in the hands of Ciceley.
Oliphant will get his first taste of track time in late February at an extensive pre-season testing programme ahead of the first race at Brands Hatch on April 7/8.
Prior to that, Oliphant will be unveiling his new livery during the championship’s official pre-season launch day at Donington Park on Tuesday, March 27.
Oliphant said: “The BTCC is the biggest championship in the UK and it’s a fantastic opportunity for me and my partners.
“I’m under no illusions as to the challenge facing me this season.
“It’s my first season in touring cars and I’ll be coming up against a hugely competitive grid filled with talented drivers, but we’re up for the challenge and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in.
“I’m really happy to be working with Ciceley Motorsport. They are a proven front-running squad in the championship and the Mercedes is an established race-winning car, which combined is a perfect platform for me to be competitive in the series from the off.”
Oliphant will be eligible to compete in the Independents Drivers’ Championship and the Jack Sears Trophy, which is a class open to all drivers who start the season without an overall podium in the series.
Russell Morgan, Ciceley Motorsport team principal. said: “As soon as I heard that Tom was available we moved mountains in our quest to sign him.
“He is exactly the type of driver I want in my squad – professional in and out of the car and blisteringly fast.
“I expect him to do well in both the Independents and the Jack Sears Trophy.
“Although Tom has no front-wheel drive experience, our cars are very well balanced and we have a comprehensive pre-season test schedule arranged. I am confident that Tom will soon get to grips with the car and be on the pace straight away.”
The former single-seater racer makes the move into the BTCC following four seasons racing on the championship’s support package, with a two year spell in the Ginetta GT4 Supercup culminating in title success in 2015.
Alongside his UK campaigns, Oliphant has made selected outings in the Formula One-supporting Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup, and is currently the championship leader in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East.
Pic: Jakob Ebrey Photography.